JULY 3, 2012 — Incidents alleged to have occurred aboard the Coast Guard Cutters Polar Star and Gallatin are among those that will see a Coast Guard Petty Officer face a court-martial expected to begin in September in Charleston, S.C.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Omar Gomez, 35, is accused of rape, sexual assault, cruelty and maltreatment, making a false official statement and failure to obey a lawful order.
The decision by Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area Commander, is based on the recommendation of an Article 32 hearing (similar to a civilian grand jury hearing) completed May 22, 2013, that reasonable grounds exist to try Gomez, for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice including:
- Article 92 – Failure to obey a lawful order and regulation
- Article 93 – Cruelty and Maltreatment
- Article 107 – False official statement
- Article 120 – Rape, Sexual Assault, Wrongful Sexual Contact, and Indecent Exposure
- Article 134 – General Articles (offenses not specifically covered in any other article of the UCMJ)
The charges follow a six-month-long Coast Guard investigation which revealed that Gomez, the sole member of the service charged in this case, engaged in a broad spectrum of sexually related misconduct ranging from rape to inappropriate comments, involving two civilians and six Coast Guard women. The charge stemming from the 2006 allegation of rape of one of the civilian victims is not expected to move forward due to the decision by the victim not to participate in further legal proceedings.
The investigation began immediately after a sexual assault aboard the Gallatin was reported Sept. 16, 2012. The crimes allegedly occurred in May 2006 while he was stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star in Seattle and between August 2011 and September 2012 while aboard the Gallatin. Locations of the crimes ranged from the Seattle area, Honduras, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Charleston, South Carolina.
Gomez has been administratively assigned off of Gallatin to another unit in South Carolina. In accordance with the Strong Act, all of Gomez's Coast Guard victims were offered a transfer. One victim remains aboard Gallatin by choice and all others were transferred upon their requests.
"We are committed to ensuring the victims of sexual assault receive all the support and treatment they need, that their privacy is protected, and that military justice is conducted in a timely, objective and fair process," said Parker. "We remain steadfast in our efforts to change attitudes, behavior and cultures that have allowed the crime of sexual assault to damage the lives of our shipmates. Our goal is to create a culture where every service member feels duty-bound to intervene and protect; where victims feel empowered to report offenders without fear of reprisal and where every leader creates a command climate intolerant of sexual assault, founded upon trust and mutual respect."